Velvet (or is it Tepet Flow Exultant?) speaks their piece and the Solars are once again faced with the possibility that a past ally was deceiving them.
Tepet Flow Exultant and the Solars head down to Quiet Word’s pool to talk. Flow Exultant admits to having been exaggerating his status as a prisoner in order to protect his husband, Crest Exultant, and keep him on course in his destiny: Flow Exultant is indeed a different body for Velvet, a chosen of one of the Five Maidens. Sidereals, (s)he explains, are cursed with something “bigger than themselves”: The Great Game. She once smothered a child who would have, in time, triggered a rebellion that would have destroyed Gem and kept the Solars from reaching an important destination in the future, and in this way, Velvet helps to weave the Loom of Fate.
Velvet begs the Solars not to listen to Starlight Dove, but they are not convinced: Jorek and Valeria have no reason to trust her, and Rey is upset by Velvet’s admitting to murder, and to “turning her back” on individual suffering. Velvet asks to speak to Rey privately: Jorek senses that her intentions are to spare someone else’s feelings and are not necessarily destructive, and so the two move further off. Velvet attempts to plant a seed in Rey’s mind that Three Fates Shadow might be deceiving them all: she believe the Abyssal to be mad and still pursuing her mission to kill a loved one of each of the four Solars, which, as Velvet points out, is still very much on track.
As they are all together, Quiet Word takes this moment to show the Solars an object he has been hiding for many years: a wooden box wrapped in a bolt of red silk just like the ones Rey, Valeria, and Jorek found at the time of their Exaltations. The box, he explains, cannot be opened by natural means, but when the four lay their hands on the catch, it opens, revealing a letter bearing the seal of House Dvorah, which Jorek recognizes. Assuming it is for Quiet Word, he lets the Twilight read it first: scanning it, he becomes enraged, charging at Jorek! Faster than lightning, Rey jumps in and pins Quiet Word to the ground and keeps him immobilized through the worst of his Limit Break. Jorek picks up the letter and reads it, discovering that it is addressed to him: Tai-La of House Dvorah in Great Forks, a lover of Jorek’s from a few years before, reveals to him that Sola is their daughter and was placed in the care of Quiet Word!
In shock at the discovery of, and loss of, his daughter, Jorek stumbles outside to think. Valeria follows him and they commiserate over their shared feelings of aimlessness. They are both unsure what to do about Velvet’s recent appearance, about her intentions, and about their bigger place in Creation, but Val takes a moment to pass on Sola’s intimacy to Jorek (“I will find my biological father”) as well as the positive feelings it entails. Three Fates Shadow appears outside as well and embraces Jorek, hoping it will make him feel better; she’s “trying to get better at love”. Jorek’s not the only one that Three Fates has tried to cheer up in her own way: she lets Quiet Word know that “there is a reason we fight for life: it is needed for Creation to grow. Death is not a punishment.”
Velvet and Rey are left alone with a now-passed out Quiet Word. The Sidereal expresses dissatisfaction with her lot to Rey as the Solar moves outside to be with Jorek. The Eclipse expresses gratitude for everything Rey has done for him, and asks that she train him. As Valeria moves back downstairs to check on Quiet Word, Velvet tries to gain her trust by explaining to her why the Chosen of the Five Maidens speak the way they do. She also tells Val that, although she cannot see all events in the Loom of Fate, she does know that “the boy you saved no longer lives in your village, and in turn saved another village from a bursting dam.”
Hearing some of “Flow Exultant’s” soldiers outside struggling with a downed tree, Rey runs out to help and meeta Philla, a pleasant solider. Another gets his foot crushed by the now upright tree, and Rey brings Valeria out of the house to help, binding and setting his foot in the blink of an eye.
During that blink of an eye, however, all three Solars hear a cry from the basement: “Mother, no!” They race back down and find both Starlight Dove and Velvet, with power bows drawn and pointed at each other, and Quiet Word on the floor, his head separated from his body. “But SHE killed Quiet Word,” they both cry. Starlight Dove explains that Velvet, being a member of the Bronze Faction, would want Quiet Word dead because having a full Circle makes the Solars too powerful; Velvet claims that her mother simply appeared there, using her Dancing Pearl Courtesan Style to cut off his head. Since the Solars cannot tell what weapon was used to commit the murder, they reach a tense impasse. Just as the arrows fly, somewhere, Ember has found someone he can trick; Alvor is safe; and Tai-La is unaware of her daughter’s fate….